Cambodia and Angkor Wat In Movies

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Cambodia and Angkor Wat In Movies

Hidden in Southeast Asia, intersecting the Mekong Delta lies the enchanting region of Cambodia with its enticing centuries-old Buddhist temples. Dating back to almost 4000 B.C, the area has been inhabited borrowing its cultural influences from India and China. Due to its diverse geographical landscape with centuries-old magnificent temples reciting the country’s heritage, Cambodia has always been one of the prime film-sets in movies. One of the prime locations for films set in Cambodia is the temple of Angkor Wat. This abandoned city of Angkor Wat has repeatedly appeared in films for its magnificent and historical architecture.


Movies Featuring Angkor Wat


1. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)


The most popular setting of Angkor Wat in movies occurred in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) where the character of Lara was played by the famous movie actress, Angelina Jolie. Angkor Wat was dubbed as “Tomb Raider temple” after the movie was filmed in 2001 featuring the temples of Cambodia. The movie’s success aided the temple’s fame with a marked rise in tourism after 2001.


2. First They Killed My Father (2017)


First They Killed My Father is the story depicting the struggle to survive a genocide of the Khmer Rouge regime which resulted in more than two million deaths. The movie is set in Cambodia highlighting some of the areas of Angkor Wat temple including the nearby town of Siem Reap.


3. Two Brothers (2004)


Another movie featuring Angkor Wat film locations is Two Brothers. The film is set in 1920’s Cambodia during the French colonization. The movie explores the life of two tiger brothers as they transition from infancy to adulthood, all the while highlighting the majestic view of temples in Siem Reap, including Angkor Wat.


4. Poppy Goes to Hollywood (2016)



Featuring the LGBT community in Cambodia, this comic film explores the plains and ancient temples of Cambodia, e.g. Angkor Wat temple, the ruins of Siem Reap.


5. Cambodian Son (2014)


Subtle highlights of Angkor Wat can be seen in the movie Cambodian Son shot in Cambodia, America, the UK, and France. The film is a biographical drama of Kosal Khiev as he journeys from being a prisoner in America to a renowned poet in Cambodia.


6. Funan (2018)


The animation film Funan features several shots of popular Angkor Wat film locations and the plains of Cambodia. Highlighting the historical event of the Khmer Rouge revolution, the story describes the struggle of a mother to find her son snatched from her by the cruel regime of the time.


7. Jailbreak (2017)




Filled with action and traces of comic relief, Jailbreak is a roller-coaster journey of a playboy wrongly accused of being a gang leader. The movie is set in Cambodia, highlighting some of the enticing views of the country, including its eye-catching historical temples to the modern architecture of the country.


8. The Last Reel (2014)


Released in the Khmer language, the film explores the trauma and struggles of contemporary Cambodian families as they battle with the ghosts and scars left by a tyrannical past. Set in Phnom Penh, the film features some of the most stunning views of the country highlighting the geography of the region as well as the visible scars left on the country by French colonization.


9. City of Ghosts (2002)


This American thriller features Cambodia as a con man escapes from American law authorities and escapes to this south-eastern region of Asia. The film presents Cambodia with an exotic touch; an area that is covered in mystery and crime. One can see the locale of Cambodian region as well as some historical sites of the country including the temples of Siem Reap.


10. Same Same But Different (2009)


Based on a true story, the movie explores the unique love story of a local Cambodian girl from Phnom Penh and a German student traveling to Cambodia. The film is full of dramatic events as it dives deeper into the local Cambodian life and highlights the cruel reality of life where innocence is lost, and morals are questioned.


Documentaries Featuring Angkor Wat


1. Jungle Atlantis (2014)



The documentary explores the secrets of Angkor Wat and the Khmer Empire that ruled over Cambodia in the twelfth century. Angkor Wat stretched in its all glory over an area four times the Vatican City, is highlighted in detail along with its unique history and purposes it served during Khmer Empire.


2. Lost Worlds: City Of The God-Kings (2002)


Another Cambodia documentary featuring Angkor Wat and the City of Temples as the main focus, the short film explores the mysteries hidden in the folds of Cambodian Jungle as the archaeologists investigate this City of Gods using their advanced equipment and modern technology.


3. Angkor Awakens: A Portrait of Cambodia 2016


This ninety-minute documentary dives deep into the psychology of Cambodian residents as they battle to overcome the mental and emotional damage left after the genocide carried out by the Khmer Rouge regime resulting in an estimated two million deaths. The documentary successfully captures the bustling streets of Cambodia as well as the country’s marvelous historical heritage hidden among the folds of Cambodian Jungles.

Cambodia is one of the youngest nations of South East Asia and is often neglected in the world’s history. Where Cambodian nationals are struggling to fight their way to earn recognition and prominence, these movies and documentaries filming the region are catalyzing to narrate the compelling and impactful history of Cambodia.

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